Save The Whales – Beyond Darwin ©

By Shinazy

whalesToday is a winter day.  At noon the temperature is minus 20*F (- 20*).  It’s white in every direction; even the water is white, covered in a sheet of ice.  Except for a hole that contains 12 Killer Whales who are trapped, land locked, separated from food and their journey south.  Separated from their life cycle.  This most recent save-an-animal news is happening in an ice field off the coast of Inukjuak, Quebec, where the 1,500 residents plead for the world to help, while their government assesses the situation.  The situation gets colder every day and the hole gets smaller.

Because the Canadian government is not getting involved, the question seems to be, Who Should?  For some folks there’s another question: Should We?

One way to view this Save-The-Whales movement is the Darwin approach:  Survival of the Fittest. “If they got themselves into this situation, they should get themselves out.”  I heard this argument when Humphrey the humpback whale wandered into the San Francisco Bay and was unable to find his way back to the ocean.  After weeks in the bay’s fresh water Humphrey was doomed to never have baby whales.

Yes, this would be one way to handle the situation.

However, we humans, being at the top of the food chain with the biggest ‘hearts’ would not let Humphrey become a Darwin statistic.  The world watched and the locals acted.  After many attempts, using various methods, Humphrey was finally lured out of the bay.  It was our big brain and bigger empathy that decided using humpback whales feeding sounds would get the recuse job done.  And, it did.  Saving Humphrey became a somewhat regular event.  Over the next few years he developed a habit of making a left-hand turn on his way south.  But, we were always there to guide him back.

Several years later, another Humpback became tangled in crab traps off the Farallone Islands, again near San Francisco, California.  This time it was obvious that we, our behavior, was the cause.  This time there was no talk of Darwin.  The course of action was clear:  We were responsible, so we needed to save the whale.

whalesToday, with these 12 stranded whales, we are faced with a situation that is less clear.

Is it our actions, our global behavior resulting from our need to consume, to produce, to industrialize, causing the ice sheets to change?  Or, is this a group of whales with faulty GPS genes?

Do we interfere with the Darwin path or do we attempt to save?  The world continues to watch.

photos by kythpryn and shinazy

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4 Responses to Save The Whales – Beyond Darwin ©

  1. Sometimes when the news touches your heart, you just gotta write about it. Enjoy! ~ shinazy

  2. I really appreciated your well-written story, especially because of my background in wildlife biology. The stranded whales can be seen, and that’s what causes the reaction in people to “do something.” What isn’t (or wouldn’t be) seen is the effect of 12 deceased killer whales on the food chain and local food resources in that particular area. It would be an absolute bonanza for a plethora of creatures that live there. But these are “lesser” creatures, mostly invertebrates (therefore very unlike us humans), and they are largely unseen. Therefore, they will never “win” in the public debate about whether to try to save the whales.

  3. Great story and affirmation of the human capacity to care about others. Keep sharing with us your stories S.

  4. Well written, Shinazy. The story took me to that ice hole and reminded me of Humphry, and that we really do care about those who are stranded. Our hearts are big and I hope we never loose that concept.